Muckraker

Yes of course we recognise him!


UNITED States P

resident George W Bush is “a threat to American security and a ‘Thief-in-Chief’” who had no right to lecture the world on democracy and human rights, according to US critic Michael Moore, quoted with obvious approval by Sunday Mail political editor Munyaradzi Huni last weekend.


“In his latest book entitled Stupid White Men, Mr Moore says as someone who ‘stole’ the American elections that put him into power, Mr Bush is a squatter in the Oval Office,” Huni noted.


What he doesn’t tell us is that Moore’s book isn’t very “latest”. It was written two years ago. And we recall Huni’s mentor Jonathan Moyo quoting from it. Huni is obviously unfamiliar with the book but dutifully recites from it when instructed, no doubt with the relevant bits underlined!


What is interesting is that last week Daily News editor Nqobile Nyathi was charged under Posa with publishing material likely to engender hostility towards President Mugabe. This related to an advertisement that would be considered unremarkable in a proper democracy. It portrayed a crowd chasing a character resembling President Mugabe, saying they recognised him as a thief.


Mugabe had been complaining about the MDC and others not recognising him since the 2002 poll.


“Yes of course we recognise him,” the advert said. “We recognise him as the senile thief who stole your voice in March 2002.”


The lawyers acting for Nyathi may care to note the Sunday Mail article of June 29 heaping scorn on Bush and describing him as a “Thief-in-Chief”.


Why is it OK for the state to authorise its media to insult a foreign head of state when it will not tolerate any such criticism of its own? These latest charges self-evidently represent an unreasonably selective and vexatious application of the law designed to protect Mugabe’s record from legitimate public scrutiny — and just when he has launched himself on an election campaign. No coincidence there!


But perhaps the most relevant part of the offending advert was its final line: “Yes, we recognise him as the one denying us the right to express ourselves.” That has now proved to be the case.


 Somebody unlikely to be molested — for the time being at least — in the free expression of their poisonous racist views is Nathaniel Manheru, writer of “The Other Side” column in the Herald every Saturday. He has been spitting venom at US Secretary of State Colin Powell for having the temerity to tell the world who the real beneficiaries are of  Zimbabwe’s land reform programme.


Manheru rather unoriginally calls Powell a “house nigger” and claims his article in the New York Times was really authored by Assistant Secretary of State Walter Kansteiner, who Manheru refers to as “Kainsterner” throughout his diatribe.


Kansteiner is married to “a Rhodie with strong ties to well-known Rhodesian Selous Scouts”, we are told. This explains his pro-MDC views, Manheru claims.


The fact that Powell’s views — that Mugabe’s land seizures have impoverished the country while enriching his cronies — accord with just about everybody else’s is a point Manheru chose to ignore. He claims that the New York Times has “a record of winning awards for its false stories”.


He is probably getting the New York Times mixed up with the Washington Post whose writer Janet Cook won a Pulitzer Prize for a story that later turned out to have been fabricated. The New York Times’ Jayson Blair was fired recently after he was shown to have fabricated stories. But, as far as we know, he didn’t win any awards.


So the whole conspiracy theory manufactured by Manheru around Powell’s article was based on a false premise. This is somebody purporting to comment with great authority on politics and the media who doesn’t even know the name of the US Assistant Secretary of State he is lambasting! What other “facts” has he played fast and loose with?


Exactly who here is the “ordinary liar proffering ludicrous scenarios”? Manheru is the last person who should be complaining about articles written under somebody else’s name!


Why, by the way, has he decided to remove his e-mail address from the bottom of his weekly tirade? Were the public responding unfavourably to his deranged rantings? Or has he — understandably — decided to be a little less transparent?


 We can understand that Zanu PF’s standard scapegoat for their proliferating misrule, British imperialism, was responsible for many things. But Aeneas Chigwedere must be applauded for dreaming up something entirely new, according to his Herald reviewer, Clemence Tashaya.


“On the issue of human rights,” Tashaya wrote last Saturday reviewing Chigwedere’s latest magnum opus, British Betrayal of the Africans, “Dr Aeneas Chigwedere also wrote that in 1832, by passing what was popularly termed the Great 1832 Reform Act, the British violated and abused Zimbabwe’s human rights charter”.


In fact, the Act was popularly termed “the Great Reform Act”, not “the Great 1832 Reform Act”. And we challenge Dr Chigwedere or his mesmerised reviewer to produce a copy of Zimbabwe’s human rights charter from that period. Let’s hope the evidence is more documentary than spirited!


The quality of the review material can best be summarised by the following observation: “The land being recovered under the Third Chimurenga is no longer virgin land but land subjected to environmental degradation by the commercial farmers.” So that explains the 70% drop in agricultural production!


This book should not be lightly cast aside. It should be thrown with great force!


 We are used to being told by Zanu PF’s propaganda machine that the majority of Commonwealth states support Zimbabwe although none of them seems willing to say so. In particular the position of the Caribbean community is cited as solidly behind President Mugabe’s “bold stance” on land etc.


Recently we published an editor-ial from the Jamaica Observer suggesting otherwise. Now Jamaica’s leading newspaper, the Gleaner, has weighed in on the occasion of a visit to the island by South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki for a summit of Caribbean leaders.


“What the South African leader refers to as an ‘African Renaissance’ is his idée fixe, a vision being besmirched by the paranoid antics of President Mugabe in Zimbabwe.


“These two leaders share a Marxist background but while in the case of Mr Mugabe, the dialectic has lost both thesis and synthesis and hardened into a shameful dictatorship, in the case of Mr Mbeki it has gained wisdom with age and settled into a flexible pragmatism which accepts the primacy of market forces in the economic development of his country. We welcome Mr Mbeki as the embodiment of Africa’s bright future even as we repudiate Mr Mugabe for destroying the future prospects of his tragic country.


“It is time, we think, for leaders like Mr Mbeki and (Jamaican prime minister) Mr Patterson to put aside the cover of political correctness and, once and for all, condemn the evil of Mr Mugabe’s rule, a regime no less racist than the one in his country which Mr Mbeki struggled so hard to change. Perhaps the summit of Caribbean leaders, marking their 30th anniversary in Montego Bay, would be an appropriate occasion for such a declaration.”


Couldn’t be clearer than that, could it!


 President Bakili Muluzi recently threatened to deal with mediahouses that probe into the way he distributes maize to his supporters during political rallies, Misa reports.


He was apparently incensedby a lead article in the Week-end Nation of June 21/22 that questioned the source of the funds the president doles out at his rallies.


“Voetsek (go away)! How can newspapers question that? Do I take the maize from your home?” he was reported as saying to an audience of supporters.


“And you, the opposition, have I ever come to you asking for alms?”


The president warned that he would be forced to act if the media did not stop poking its nose into his business. “One day I will come to your home and grab you by the collar,” he said.


This is one of the three heads of state who claim they are working to restore democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe! Malawian authorities recently handed over to US agents five suspected Al-Qaeda suspects despite a court injunction blocking their deportation.


Malawi thus joins Zimbabwe in violating its own laws while the US encourages such behaviour by taking possession of individuals who have been illegally removed from the country. Not the best way to promote democracy or the rule of law!


 Thank God one piece of deadwood is out of the race for the presidency. Didymus Mutasa told the Herald all he wanted was to be vice-president. He didn’t say whose vice-president. Certainly not Robert Mugabe’s since the succession debate is about Mugabe quitting the political stage to save the country from more calamities.


Not that there weren’t gems to be gleaned from Mutasa’s musings. He belongs to the old school of politicians who still think Zanu PF knows it all. The only thing he enjoyed as Speaker of the House was when a Zanu PF MP called his Rhodesian Front counterpart a monkey. Debate was better then, said Mutasa, “because the Rhodesians were speaking for themselves, not through a proxy-party called the MDC”.


He should have been frank: Zanu PF enjoyed unrivalled power then and there was no serious threat to its survival. In any case, at the time Zanu PF had all the goodwill in the world which it abused and has given birth to a more formidable party in the MDC, which he patronisingly calls “a naughty, immature young brother”.


He said MDC members should have joined Zanu PF and “expressed and implemented their ideas from within”. But surely there was nothing called “MDC members” until four years ago when it became clear Zanu PF had ceased serving anyone but itself. And nobody in their right mind would wish to share in Zanu PF’s poisoned chalice. Mutasa’s dream of a one-party state will remain just that — a dream.


This is the same person, let us recall, who thought Zimbabwe would be better off with only half its present population and called Mugabe “our king”. Now he is looking for somebody else’s boots to lick!


Another dreamer, Jonathan Moyo, thinks he can wish the country’s problems away by spending millions of dollars  on the nation’s football team. The match between Zimbabwe and Eritrea seems to have awakened him from a winter hibernation and he is hogging the limelight on both radio and TV prime time while the nation faces critical shortages of virtually everything, from fuel to its own banknotes.


The ZBC, which promises to be there when it happens, is noticeable by its lack of coverage of the snaking queues under its very nose in the CBD. Not that the Warriors don’t deserve financial support. The question is where would they cash Moyo’s $100 million cheque if they won the match against Eritrea? And why should that game detract from the real issues of survival that should be exercising the minds of any self-respecting government?


Or have our problems become so normal that they are not a priority — just as constitutional reform was urgently needed to redress our sovereignty but suddenly dropped off the national agenda because of a bad case of sour grapes?


And Moyo thinks a one-off football game will make people forget Zanu PF’s insufferable incompetence. Dream on M’koma J.